WHAT SAY YOU?

Guy refuses to give up his phone’s password.

I don’t blame him.

No matter how much of a shit-heel he is.

An ex-LSU student charged with negligent homicide in the September 2017 alcohol-related hazing death of fraternity pledge Max Gruver is vigorously fighting prosecutors’ attempts to obtain the password to his cellphone.

The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office seized Matthew Alexander Naquin’s phone through a court order last November but has been unable to access its contents because the phone is passcode-protected.

Prosecutors have filed a motion asking state District Judge Beau Higginbotham to order Naquin, 20, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, to turn over the code. Naquin’s attorney claims such an order would violate Naquin’s constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Gruver, 18, of Roswell, Georgia, died following a hazing ritual that senior Phi Delta Theta members called “Bible study,” in which pledges were required to chug hard liquor when they gave wrong answers to questions about the fraternity, authorities said.

In the fight over Naquin’s cellphone, defense attorney John McLindon and District Attorney Hillar Moore III both say the issues raised by Naquin have never been directly addressed by either the Louisiana Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

The stakes are high, according to both men.

“I don’t think many citizens want the government rummaging through their phone,” McLindon said in an email. “I believe the manufacturers of smartphones believe in privacy as well; otherwise, the phones would be made in a way that they could be accessed easily.”

Moore contends that if Naquin is not compelled to provide his passcode, “it would indeed set a harmful and dangerous precedent for Louisiana and the nation.”

“Deeming the passcode protected under the 5th Amendment would lead to absurd consequences — criminals would know not to use face recognition or fingerprints to lock their phones and instead always use passcodes to avoid access to law enforcement,” the district attorney also said Wednesday in an email.

Higginbotham is scheduled to hear the state’s motion next Tuesday.

McLindon argues in Naquin’s opposition, filed Nov. 15, that Naquin’s phone is unrelated to the alleged crime of negligent homicide. Moore’s office disputes that argument.

The state’s motion includes the affidavit for search and seizure warrant that District Attorney’s Office investigator Jeff Malone filed with the 19th Judicial District Court to obtain permission to confiscate Naquin’s phone.

Malone states in the affidavit that, throughout the investigation into Gruver’s death, Naquin “was found to be a main participant during the hazing event,” and LSU police reports indicate Naquin was “the most aggressive, and in charge of the hazing incident.”

The affidavit also says witness statements and electronic records indicate Naquin “communicated with other defendants through the use of mobile devices regarding the criminal conduct at issue before, during, and after the death of Maxwell Gruver.”

“Witness statements provided by LSU police further indicate that additional communication exists regarding other hazing incidents and criminal conduct prior to” Gruver’s death, Malone wrote in the affidavit.

McLindon argues in Naquin’s opposition to the motion to compel that the state “can speculate what a college-aged male might have on his smartphone, but that speculation is woefully insufficient to satisfy the onerous burden necessary to trample Naquin’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.”

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1 Response to WHAT SAY YOU?

  1. Deplorable B Woodman says:

    Gubberment (at all levels) intrudes too much already.

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